Former Major Leaguer and Connecticut football/baseball star Rico Brogna has been named the next football coach at Notre Dame-Fairfield, athletic director Rob Bleggi announced in a statement today.
Brogna, 41, starred in football and basketball at Watertown in the 1980s and went on to have a nine-year career in Major League Baseball with the Detroit Tigers, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, Boston Red Sox, and Atlanta Braves.
A press conference introducing Brogna is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Wednesday morning.
“I am thrilled to be a part of the Notre Dame family,” Brogna said in a statement. “There is a very strong tradition and history here at Notre Dame and I am excited to help return Notre Dame football to the level of success the school expects it to be.
“I am humbled an honored to have this job at one of the finest schools in the state of Connecticut.”
Brogna has been a coaching journeyman since retiring as baseball player in 2001. In high school, he has coached Kennedy football, Nonnewaug football and Watertown basketball. In college, he was the head coach of Post baseball and a volunteer wide receivers coach at Wesleyan.
Last summer, Brogna managed the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Double-A Mobile BayBears to a 75-62 record and was promoted to director of player development on Oct. 15. He resigned his new post three weeks later.
Via email, Brogna said he’s officially retired from pro baseball, which will allow him to coach Notre Dame “year-round.” He added that he would also help baseball coach Paul Fabbri.
Brogna thanked Notre Dame president Fr. Bill Sangiovanni, Principal Chris Cipriano and Bleggi for the opportunity.
“I am absolutely thrilled at the prospect of welcoming Rico Brogna to the Notre Dame athletic staff,” Sangiovanni said in the statement.
Cipriano said: “Rico understands the importance of success of our student-athletes both in the classroom and on the football field. He recognizes the importance of hard work, goal-setting and academic excellence. Not only will his background as a professional athlete serve to better our team, but more importantly, he will serve as an outstanding role model for our students.”
Bleggi said: “…I am very excited that Rico Brogna will be the news head football coach at Notre Dame. His character, coaching skills and leadership is exactly what we are looking for as we build Notre Dame football for the future. Not only will he be an asset to our football program but to the school as a whole.”
Brogna played football, basketball and baseball at Watertown and graduated in 1987. Recruited to be a quarterback at Clemson, he instead chose a career in pro baseball after being drafted by the Detroit Tigers with the 26th overall pick.
He made his MLB debut with the Tigers in 1992 and batted .269 with 106 home runs and 458 RBIs over eight seasons.
In his career at Watertown, Brogna threw for 6,083 yards (then a state record), 59 touchdown passes and also kicked 11 field goals. His 54-yarder in 1987 is the longest in state history and his 70 consecutive extra points is second all-time.